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Juggling work, family good for women

Are you stressed with too much to handle? Cheer up! Here's good news.

india Updated: May 15, 2006 10:28 IST

Juggling a career along with being a wife or partner and parent may help to keep women healthy, scientists said on Monday.

After analysing data from a study that tracked the health of Britons born in 1946, they found that women who had multiple roles were less likely than homemakers, single mothers or childless females to report poor health or to be obese in middle age.

"Women who occupied multiple roles over the long term reported relatively good health at age 54," said Dr Anne McMunn, of University College London.

"It looks like women are relatively healthy as a result of combining work and family life."

In the study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, McMunn and her team analysed self-reported health records of more than 2,000 women at the ages of 26 and 54 and their body mass index, a method of measuring obesity.

Information on their marital status, work history and whether they had children was also included.

The researchers found that women who had been homemakers most of their lives were most likely to report poor health, followed by single mothers and childless women.

Homemakers tended to gain weight more quickly and had the highest rate of obesity at 38 per cent while women who were employees, wives and mothers had the lowest.

McMunn said it has been known for some time that women who combine employment with motherhood and partnership have better health. But it was not clear whether they were working and having children because they were healthy, or whether they were healthy because they were combining the two.

"This study is the first to show which way that direction runs," she added.

"There may be potential long-term health benefits of being able to participate in all areas of society."